Thursday, November 12, 2009

Open Europe press summary: 12 November 2009

Sweden proposes to include caps on bonuses in AIFM Directive;

Rapporteur for draft proposal: Industry has "no chance of winning me over"

The Swedish EU Presidency has suggested that it intends to include proposals to regulate pay as part of its recommended amendments for the controversial EU directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM), reports the Telegraph. Mats Odell, Sweden's Financial Markets Minister, told a conference in Stockholm that the European Council's amendments, expected to be tabled very soon, will include proposals that "will be very close" to rules on bankers' pay.

Euractiv reports that the Council's proposal may also include a new requirement which would see EU-based managers prohibited from marketing a fund based outside the EU, unless the country in which the fund is established has signed an information sharing agreement with the EU.

Meanwhile, the FT notes that Jean-Paul Gauzes, the MEP who is acting as "rapporteur" for the draft AIFM Directive in the European Parliament, has said that there had been "very heavy lobbying" over the draft rules, warning the parties who want a radical overhaul of the proposal that they "have no chance of winning me over".

Separately, the FT reports that BlueCrest Capital, one of the UK's largest hedge funds, is looking to relocate 50 of its staff to Geneva, amid growing concerns about London's status as a centre for alternative asset managers.

 Risk Magazine cites Open Europe's study on the AIFM Directive, published in September, which estimated the new Directive could cost the EU private equity and hedge fund industries between €1.3 billion and €1.9 billion in its first year, if adopted in its current form.

Open Europe research Open Europe press release Telegraph FT FT2 FT3 EUobserver Hedge Fund Review Reuters EurActiv Risk Bloomberg

EU top jobs could be decided on majority vote amid failure to reach consensus

There is continued speculation over who will fill the new EU posts of President and Foreign Minister. The IHT reports that, with EU leaders seemingly unable to reach a consensus in informal consultations, the Swedish EU Presidency has warned other member states that they may face a qualified majority vote to decide who gets the two posts at a specially convened EU summit on 19 November. Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt is quoted saying, "We got more names than we have jobs to offer" and that the decision would be made "under a qualified majority, if needed."

 However, the article notes that some officials have said that legally it is impossible to take such a vote until the Lisbon Treaty legally comes into force, probably on 1 December.

 Reinfeldt's intervention has been prompted by the disintegration of an emerging compromise, which would have seen Belgium's Prime Minister, Herman Van Rompuy, as President, with Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, as the Foreign Minster, after Miliband ruled himself out of the running. The Times quotes a French diplomat saying, "Everything is in flux again." The article notes that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are growing impatient with Sweden's slow work in brokering a deal behind the scenes. On his Coulisses de Bruxelles blog, Jean Quatremer reports that Reinfeldt said "after a long dinner at the Council, there were some surprises - an unexpected name could emerge."

 PA quotes Reinfeldt saying it was impossible to expect people who may be candidates for the jobs to announce it, risk not being selected, and have to return to their electorate: "Anyone who has been in politics and knows about this knows it is unrealistic that you would come to Brussels for a job and then return and then say (to the voters) 'I still love you'. I am Swedish, we love transparency, but we must also have functioning processes."

 Le Figaro reports that former EP President Simone Veil supports former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga's possible nomination for EU President. El Mundo reports that Ms Vike-Freiberga yesterday accused EU leaders of managing the nominations for the EU top posts "as always, in the darkness and behind closed doors" and that "the European Union works like the old USSR." El Mundo comments that is it likely that the UK would support her now that Tony Blair's candidacy looks highly unlikely.

 The Irish Times reports that Irish PM Brian Cowen has indicated he would back EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn for the EU Foreign Minister job, if there was sufficient support for him. FT Deutschland notes that Germany wants the job of General Secretary of the Council, and mentions Uwe Corsepius, Merkel's European adviser, as a possible candidate.

 According to Euractiv, some Socialists believe the battle for EU Foreign Minister is now effectively a two-horse race between Romanian MEP Adrian Severin and former Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema.

 In the Times, Brownen Maddox writes "The haggling over Europe's new top jobs resembles that old children's card game of mixing up the heads, bellies and feet of different animals, for a deliberately preposterous result."

 Meanwhile, a leader in the paper, with the headline "Peter Mandelson for EU foreign minister? Not such a bad idea", argues "For Britain it is vital that the post be filled by someone committed to the Atlantic alliance, robust in their support for free trade, and willing to advocate a muscular response when necessary...It is hard to imagine anyone on the centre Left who fits this description better than Lord Mandelson."

Irish Times IHT Times: Leader Times 2 Coulisses de Bruxelles Times Times: Maddox FT WSJ FT: Brussels blog EurActiv European Voice BBC: Hewitt blog EUobserver Guardian Guardian 2 Guardian: Garton Ash Europaportalen Eurointelligence Irish Times LeFigaro LeFigaro2 LeFigaro ElMundo Euractiv

Open Europe's top 50 examples of EU waste continues to receive coverage in Polish newspaper Gazeta Wspolczesna, on Polish website Pardon and in Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet.

Gazeta Wspolczesna Magyar Nemzet Open Europe: 50 examples of EU waste Open Europe press release OE blog

BNP to receive EU funding for new far-right political alliance

PA reports that a new far-right alliance of European parties, including the BNP, has launched in Brussels today. Other parties in the group include the French National Front, and the Hungarian Jobbik party. Although they do not meet the threshold to form a political grouping in the European Parliament, they will get funding as a pan-European group, sharing in a pot of money Nick Griffin put at €11 million. The BNP leader said that would be divided between the parties represented in the 'European Alliance of National Movements', with about £360,000 likely to go to the BNP.

No link

 Klaus: "EU Ambassador told me it would not be possible to organise a referendum because majority would kill the treaty"

In an interview in the US with NRO TV, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said: "I met recently an ambassador of an important EU country I will not name. [He said] In our country it would not be possible to organise a referendum. It would be clear that a majority of people would kill the treaty."

Ex-MEP jailed over European Parliament allowances

Ex-UKIP MEP Tom Wise has been jailed for two years for fraudulently claiming £39,000 in allowances from the European Parliament. The Sun reports that he pretended a £3,000 "secretarial assistance allowance" he received every month was for his 62-year-old researcher Lindsay Jenkins, but spent most of the money on fine wine, clearing credit card debts, buying a car and funding party political activities. The prosecutor said that if Mr Wise had not been caught, he could have pocketed £180,000. The Parliament reports that UKIP MEP Mike Nattrass said he was "shocked" at the severity of the sentence.

Sun Telegraph Mirror The Parliament BBC European Voice OE blog

 Next Commission may not take office before February

European Voice reports that, of the 20 nominees for the next Commission declared so far, only 3 are women, and it is likely that Jose Manuel Barroso will not reach his goal of achieving a better gender balance in his second Commission, than existed in his first. In a letter to the paper, a cross-party group of ten female MEPs note there is a "growing feeling that if the Parliament does not see more female candidates than currently sit in Barroso's outgoing Commission (eight), it will reject the whole Commission". The article notes that the EP is likely to start hearings on the Commission only in January and have a plenary vote on 20 January, and so the next Commission may therefore not take office before February.

European Voice

 EU Commission clashes with France over budget

European Intelligence reports that the European Commission yesterday officially demanded that France must get its budget deficit to below 3% by 2013 - a deadline that has already been rejected by Nicolas Sarkozy. FT Deutschland suggests that a major confrontation with France is on the cards now, and cites EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia saying that it is essential that France and Germany pull in the same direction, otherwise the euro zone would lose all credibility in questions of global co-ordination.

European Voice Eurointelligence

Writing for European Voice Alan Swinbank of Reading University and Valentin Zahrnt of the European Centre for International Political Economy argue that agricultural subsidies, "should not be centralised at the EU level - as is the case with direct income support to farmers under the CAP - but, instead, administered by national authorities better placed to channel aid in a way that reflects local preferences and is financially responsible."

European Voice

MEPs angry over data sharing with US

FT Deutschland reports that the Swedish EU Presidency wants to allow US authorities continued access to European bank customers' data, including names, addresses, account and identity card number, a move opposed by MEPs. "It is an affront that the agreement is to be pushed through so quickly even without parliamentary scrutiny - just a day before the Lisbon Treaty enters into force", said Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht.

FTD Welt

 The Telegraph reports that in order to sell around six boxes of surplus eggs to a local shop in Dorset, a Professor of Clinical Microbiology had to receive a visit from a 'hen inspector' and environmental inspector from Defra. A spokesman said they had to comply with EU labeling regulations.


 In an analysis for the FT Tony Barber suggests that the EU increasingly senses that it "cannot afford to let its relationship with Ukraine drift directionless for much longer."

FT: Barber

 EUobserver reports that the European Commission has proposed setting aside €3.5 billion of regional, agriculture and administrative aid for Croatia's first two years of EU membership, provided the country to join the bloc in 2012. The sum still needs the approval of the 27 member states.


 The European Commission has opened formal anti-trust proceedings against Thomson Reuters concerning a potential infringement of EU rules on abuse of a dominant market position.

EU monitor

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